The offensive line for the Trojans is perhaps one of their deepest positions in 2016 and leading the charge will be offensive tackle Zach Banner, a redshirt senior. Once a basketball player for the Trojans as well, it is safe to say that he has found his niche on the gridiron as he looks to solidify his reputation as one of the elite tackles in college football.
Starting his third season at left offensive tackle, the 6-foot-9, 360-pound Banner is an All-American candidate. The 2015 campaign was his second starting at the left offensive tackle position and his impact was felt as he offered continuity on the line.
He started 12 games at right tackle and two games at left tackle throughout the course of the season.
Banner’s efforts did not go unnoticed as he made the All-Pac-12 first team as well as the Associated Press All-Pac-12 second team. In addition, he made the 2015 CollegeSportsMadness.com All-American third team and Phil Steele All-Pac-12 second team.
From within the program, he won the USC Offensive Lineman of the Year Award, capping off what was a tremendous season for him.
What can Banner bring to the Trojans in the ’16 campaign? For one, he can provide a tremendous run-blocking presence for the offense and use his frame to create space and running lanes. The program ranked No. 49 in the country with 2,355 yards on the ground, not a bad number by any means, but with Banner leading a young offensive line, this number has the potential to skyrocket in ’16 as he can use his experience to play the role of mentor.
In terms of pass protection, he can use his size to give the quarterback extra time to recognize his check-downs and make proper reads. Especially with a new quarterback under center, having a player like Banner who can create a comfortable pocket, one that allows the quarterback ample time to set and throw, will be a tremendous asset.
As noted, the communications major is a well-rounded athlete. In 2011, he helped Lakes High School (Tacoma, Washington) to the 2011 state 3A title in basketball.
Banner’s veteran presence on the line should bode well for the Trojans as they look to put together one of the top offensive attacks in the country.